mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Folks, seriously... 

...I could go on about the original Land of the Lost series all day. I loved that show, and am very happy that Arcana Studio is putting out a series (presumably) based on that TV show (as seen in my most recent End of Civilization post).

So anyway, looking forward to this series. No idea if it'll be any good or not, but the mere fact that a Land of the Lost comic now exists may be enough for me.

Pictured above: a small, thin hardcover tie-in to the series (written by Jane Godfrey, illustrated by John Purtle) released in 1975.

Friday, April 03, 2009

I imagine whatever Doc's doing can't be good for the magnetic stripes. 

Marvel Comics retailer promo poster (1992)

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Progressive Ruin presents...the 50th End of Civilization! 

It all started with a Buffy the Vampire Slayer stake replica...a $100 piece of wood in a fancy box. Since then, I've been poking through each new issue of Previews for the notable, the bizarre, the silly, the outright baffling...and occasionally finding an item or two I'd even like. I bought the Snakes on a Plane talking pen from this EoC entry, for example, for no good reason I can name, other than I'll occasionally press the button on it even now and just laugh at the stupidity of it all. And there's one item in today's entry that I'm genuinely excited about. I've even managed to sell things to customers because of these EoC lists.

Every month, I think "okay, that's it, I'm not doing these any more." Because really, how much more can I say about those Japanese girly statues, you know? But I keep doing it, and you folks seem to enjoy it, so let the End of Civilization continue as long as we can manage, my friends.

Pop open your April 2009 Previews and follow along, if you dare:

p. 186 - Cerebus Archive #2:

We'd been joking at the shop about the inevitability of a "Zombie Obama" variant cover, given the comic industry's obsession with throwing one or other on the cover for a sales boost. But it took Dave Sim to dare do such a thing. Well, almost, as it's Cerebus who's the zombie, not Obama, but close enough. Shame about the $15(!) price tag for the variants, though.

p. 196 - Land of the Lost #1:

I remember looking in an Overstreet price guide for the first time, when I was but a young Mikester, looking to see if there was a comic based on my favorite kids TV show Land of the Lost. Alas, the only comic under that name was one from the '40s, based on a radio program.

Well, at last that need has been fulfilled. Doesn't matter that I'm 40 now...I'm totally buying this. (The solicitation seems to indicate that it's based on the '70s version, not the forthcoming Will Ferrell...thing. Let's hope.)

p. 230 - Barack the Barbarian: Quest for the Treasure of Stimuli #1:

I thought the regular cover for this comic was sort of mindboggling...until I saw the "Red Sarah" variant:

America...what a country.

p. 264 - Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan #1:

"The one Star Trek movie that never got a proper comic book adaptation is the best one!"

I'm pretty sure Insurrection and Nemesis got skipped, too. Unless we're just talking Classic Trek...in which case, never mind.

p. 339 - Joker Face T-Shirt:

"Sir, I must say I do not care for your garment's impertinent glare." ...This shirt is far more disturbing than it really should be.

p. 340 - Firestorm Black T-Shirt:

There was a time when I totally would have bought this shirt. May still.

p. 340 - Weekly World News "Obama" Black T-Shirt:

If I may refer the reader to the Weekly World News' follow-up story, in which the Alien withdrew the above-pictured endorsement in favor of McCain...well, I think this tells you all you need to know about the left-wing Mainstream T-Shirt-Making Media, don't you think?

p. 372 - Predator 2 Cutting Disc & Hand Limited Edition Prop Replica:

So there was that episode of The Addams Family where Thing's extraterrestrial cousin came to visit:



"Go find Thing and Space-Thing...I suspect those two are up to some mischief!"


p. 378 - Rock Iconz Ozzy Osbourne "Diary of a Madman" Statue:

Terrifyingly enormous codpiece may require extra assembly.

p. 401 - Marbs' Marvel Super Heoes Marbles Series 2:

No joke here, really...just pleased to see that Galactus gets an extra-sized marble. (Used to call those bigger marbles "boulders" when I was a kid...do kids even play with marbles any more? Or do they just play marble simulation games on their handheld X-Wiis? ...Whoops, excuse me a moment, I have to go shake my cane at some people and tell them to get off my lawn.)

p. 401 - Wolverine Origins Leather Mask:

I'm pretty sure I've made fun of something like this in a past End of Civilization. But really, who can pass up another chance to post a picture like that? Just picture that guy saying "I'm the best at what I do, bub." Yeah, I could totally take that seriously.

p. 405 - Star Trek The Next Generation Deluxe Shirts:

Kid Chris asked if he could dress like this for work. I told him if he did, he'd have to stand outside and wave at passing cars. Mostly so I wouldn't have to look at him.

Also, if you get one of these, don't wear it to jury duty. I mean, honestly.

p. 405 - Star Trek The Next Generation Locutus of Borg/Worf Masks:

I get the Worf mask, since it's close enough to Generic Klingon for general costume use, but...I don't know, Locutus seems awfully specific. If you're gonna dress as a Borg, wouldn't you rather costume-Borgify your own face instead of wearing a rubber mask that sort of resembles Patrick Stewart in Borg make-up?

p. 405 - Star Trek USS Enterprise Bottle Opener:

This seems a tad bit...disrespectful, somehow. Though admittedly, the original Enterprise didn't seem to have any shortage of bottles of contraband Romulan Ale, so I guess a bottle opener is a fair representation. "All aboard the USS Booze-a-prise! Drinking frequencies open, barkeep!"

p. 406 - Star Trek The Original Series - Spock Ears:

There's something surprisingly nostalgic about how entirely non-convincing these are. Calling them "prop replica(s)," as the solicit does, seems to be pushing the definition a bit.

p. 407 - Star Trek Tiberius Cologne for Men:

Cologne named after Kirk? That may be too much for any one man to live up to. I think if I were to open a bottle of this, the scent would grab a ceiling fixture and swing both feet directly into my chest.

p. 407 - Star Trek Red Shirt Cologne for Men:

I was all ready to make a crack about "for the man who's about to die on the job," but the box for the cologne itself reads "because tomorrow may never come." Well played, sirs.

p. 412 - Star Trek Scrabble:

Get ready for arguments over whether "K'plah" or "Qapla'" is the accepted spelling.

p. 418 - Monopoly 1935 Deluxe 1st Edition:

Released just in time for another Depression! Now that's good nostalgic marketing...oh, wait.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Staff Picks for the Week of April 1st, 2009. 

Sterling Says:

There's a reason I used that pic for Tim.

I found this other webcomic a while back...seems a little familiar, but looked like it might be amusing.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

In which Swamp Thing asks what seems like a perfectly sensible question... 

...except you'd think they'd be easy to fight, since they're all soft and squishy and probably really easy to damage. Unless Swampy's referring to the whole flying thing, since I could see where that would be a problem.

Anyway, from the same issue is this big red fella. I love this monster:

Look at the detail on his spear, and on the monster's skin, and inside the monster's mouth...I know Wrightson is the standard by which ST artists are judged, but man, Bissette and Totleben really created some awesomely weird-ass work on this series.

Also, I kind of miss the days of Swamp Thing comics where the title character would get carted around in wooden crates, as shown above, to avoid startling the populace. Swamp Thing doesn't catch rides inside cars as a regular passenger too often anymore, either:

...but the cat can still pilot a mean jeep.

images from Saga of the Swamp Thing #17 (Oct. 1983) by Marty Pasko, Steve Bissette & John Totleben, and from Saga of the Swamp Thing #10 (Feb. 1983) by Pasko, Tom Yeates & Totleben

Monday, March 30, 2009

Clone Wars, Free Comic Book Day, and the shocking return of Sgt. Shark. 

So my initial response to the new Star Wars: Clone Wars cartoons may have been a bit hasty. When I first saw the trailers for the theatrical release, I thought it looked terrible, with ugly character designs. Well, the humans still look a bit awkward, as CGI humans tend to, but...the look of the series has since grown on me.

And it's more than just the look. While the feature film (actually, three or four episodes edited together, I believe) was a bit much to take at once, the episodic adventures, at about 20 minutes per, are just the right length. It's the strongest aspects of Star Wars (the exciting action, the bizarre worlds and aliens) without the worst aspects (the unconvincing love stories, the attempts at expanding characterizations beyond two dimensions...or even one). It's probably the most successful attempt yet at emulating the old movie serials that partially served as inspiration for this franchise.

Additionally, there's the aspect of just when this series is taking place...between Episodes II and III. We know what happens in III (and in case you don't -- here come some SPOILERS): the clone army is given the command to kill all the Jedi, and Anakin finally gives in to the Dark Side of the Force. The impending sense of doom and irony pervades this series, as the Jedis are allied with the clone army, giving them advice, saving their lives, complimenting their skill, and so on...basically, the Jedi are feeding their own defeat.

And then there's Anakin young Padawan in the series, Ahsoka, who...well, most Jedi meet their makers in Episode III, aside from Ben and Yoda, who go into hiding. I suppose Ahsoka could make it out alive, too...but dramatically, it would make the most sense for her to be killed by Anakin. Of course, this'll never be shown, otherwise you'd have the parents of many a traumatized child writing in to Lucasfilm, but that's my guess for the character's eventual fate.

Anyway, I've been enjoying Clone Wars, mostly for the action and visuals, but at least partially for the feeling of dread. Oh, and for that one scene where R2D2 fights to the death with an evil astromech unit. That was pretty awesome.

A couple of things about Free Comic Book Day:

EDIT: 0. Apparently the Free Comic Book Day site is coming up as a "reported attack site," and even a Google search has the "this site may harm your computer" caveat attached to the results. No idea what's going on, there, but I'm changing the link to the Wikipedia article for now.

1. Had a mom and her kid tell me they're going to make a two hour drive to come to our shop for FCBD because 1) they weren't happy with the event at their local stores, and 2) they'd heard and read good reviews about how we handled things. That's pretty gratifying, though I suspect (judging by some of the things she mentioned -- specifically, detailing how we distributed the books -- and that she identified blogs as one of her sources) one of the "reviews" may have been my account of the event, so tooting my own horn has paid off, perhaps. But anyway, it's a bit amusingly sad that an event designed for customer outreach can have the result of driving said customers away to other shops. That's colloquially known as "Doing It Wrong."

I suppose, technically, it is having the intended effect of getting people into shops, but still.

2. A few people still seem to think that FCBD is something that our store created and just our store is doing. I emphasize that it's an industry-wide thing (theoretically) and that we'll be giving away newly-publishd comics specifically provided by multiple publishers...and not just handing out books pulled from our bargain boxes (which some folks appear to think).

It's not as many as in previous years, so word about the event is still spreading.

3. Still hearing too many people read the advertising tagline "1ST SATURDAY IN MAY" as "oh, it'll be on May 1st." I'm doing my darned best to correct everyone I hear saying that.

This week's logo banner is brought to you by reader Matthew Allison, who also provided this terrifying callback to that Sgt. Shark ad I posted a couple of months ago:

Yes, the parrot does have an eyepatch.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

"Your Choice - 88 Cents Each." 

What I like most about ads like these:

...are the little cartoony drawings contained therein. For example:

Wha--? That dog's not working at all. He's just hanging around outside the office building, taking yet another smoking break, the shirker.

I'm not sure how happy a real policeman would be about someone passing out fake parking tickets. Unless that's the prankster in the 88-cent "Impersonate an Officer of the Law" costume, moments before the arrest.

The expression is great...he is dismayed and puzzled by the explosions on his fingertips. "The pinky's gone nuclear...nuclear!"

This is quite possibly the saddest person alive. He simply can't believe one of his "friends" pulled this hoary old joke on him. "Did you really blacken the end of a telescope to give me a black eye? Really? ...Which of the Little Rascals put you up to this?"

And...hey, wait a second:

...is that the same as one of these? Looks like some of the ten functions may be a little different now.

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